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NZ Banks Must Care About Vulnerable Players



NZ Banks Must Care About Vulnerable Players

New Zealanders spend more on gambling than ever before and according to the figures from the Department of Internal Affairs, the spend on gambling especially on pokies in 2020 was the equivalent of $204 spent by each adult. The quarterly expenditure in 2020 is the highest since 2007 as it was $252 million spent across 14,781 poker machines outside the national casinos. 


Moreover, Kiwis use to spend a lion’s share of funds playing at NZ mobile casinos listed at CasinoDeps. Apart from applying stricter regulations and various effective forms of policy intervention to reduce gambling harm; NZ Banks can also implement measures to minimise access to gambling. Not only must these financial institutions care about vulnerable gamblers to prevent them from developing a gambling addiction but they should also ensure that their customers experiencing vulnerabilities will benefit from the appropriate level of support.

A bank gave a credit card to the problem gambler

A bank gave a credit card to its customer who is experiencing addiction because of games and this player asked to block his access to personal loans. Actually, this problem gambler asked the bank if he could be blocked to access personal loan services because he had just paid back his loan. The bank accepted his request by mentioning that the home lending team had been informed. When this person applied for a credit card online three months later with a $12,500 limit, it was approved on the same day. 


Then, when this customer complained in the Banking Ombudsman Scheme, he noticed that he was not the only one to complain. In fact, he was among the 1600 persons who complained about the bank regarding bank lending. These complainants are trapped in a cycle of debt and they affirmed that they cannot afford the bank debt and fees on that debt. In other words, instead of offering the service to block gambling, the banks are the factors to encourage people to gamble.

The banks must have a responsibility towards vulnerable players

The conduct and culture in the NZ banks are reviewed by Rob Everett, a Financial Markets Authority chief executive, and Adrian Orr, a Reserve Bank governor. They deliver their findings in the review from which the bank should be fair and help the vulnerable players. In this problem gambler’s case mentioned above, the bank proved inadequate regarding customer care and communication. Actually, the obvious disconnect between this customer’s request for a personal lending block and his credit card application facility was found. In this case, the bank paid back all the interest on the customer’s credit card which is around $1000. 


Extra compensation for the inconvenience was also paid by this financial institution to this player, which is $500. The review of subsequent Bank Conduct and Culture requires all banks in New Zealand to establish processes and policies in terms of vulnerable customers’ assistance. Besides, in this COVID-19 pandemic, the review must be strengthened in the goal to provide effective support for customers experiencing financial difficulties. Further enhancements are also looking forward.

Bank mechanisms to better support gamblers

Various policies for a better commitment to customer care were set up by the banks. These schemes ensure that all vulnerable customers will be responded to with the appropriate level of help and support. Some banks have already put mechanisms in place to help and support their customers who are addicted to gambling. As a matter of fact, some of them are working with organisations that support anti-gambling. 


Other financial institutions are also introducing gambling blocks for credit cards to their customers and these days, banning the use of their credit cards for gambling has become a trend among the banks. Further improvements are looking forward to how the NZ banks can support customers with gambling problems. As an example, the bank can initiate customer care allowing the customers who need extra help can ask or front up directly.

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